Villagers hope biogas project is model for state to follow

HomeForumsBlock/Taluka specific Panchayat RajQuepemVillagers hope biogas project is model for state to follow

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September 24, 2012 at 7:08 am #3885

The benefits of switching to biogas will be several-fold for the locals of Padi, Gokuldem and Quisconda in Quepem taluka.

“The Biomethanation units will help locals and protect the environment too, as firewood is used for cooking in these villages,” said Subodh D’Souza, sociologist and a key member of the Quepem Salesian Society’s watershed development projects. He said the units will also help villagers manage their kitchen waste.

Speaking to STOI from Kanyakumari, G Vasudeo, secretary, Vivekananda Kendra-NARDEP, explained how a unit works. “The main digester is initially fed cattle dung which is rich in methanogenic bacteria that produces methane from cellulosic material. Subsequently, one can feed the plant daily with kitchen/vegetable waste,” said Vasudeo.

About 5 kg of kitchen waste is required to produce 1 cubic meter of biogas which is equal to 0.43 kg of LPG. Apart from being an alternative cooking fuel and a good biodegradable waste management system, the units are hygienic (no odour or flies), user-friendly, easy to relocate and can be kept on the terrace as well, he said.

The state agriculture department-the nodal agency for the central government’s National Watershed Development Programme for Rain-fed Areas-said the funds are disbursed under the NWDPRA’s testing and demonstration scheme.

Arjun Velip, representing Padi for this project, said the arrival of the stoves has created a buzz in the village. Datta Gaunkar, the project head for Gokuldem, agreed, “Such projects are badly needed as our villages lack basic infrastructure.” The ex-sarpanch of Padi Barcem village panchayat pointed out that villagers in this part of Quepem live very simple lives, eating what they grow and earning a meagre livelihood from working in plantations.

The biogas project, incidentally, is another feather in the cap for the Quepem Salesian Society. Just four months ago, under another watershed development project, they lit up 400 homes across Gokuldem, Padi, Quisconda and Vavurla with portable solar lights.

The Salesians trained the youth to carry out the electrical wiring and maintenance of the units and each household had to invest a minimal amount for installation to engender a sense of ownership. The remaining amount was funded through donations.

“This biogas unit was always meant to be implemented, but we took it stage-wise,” said Quadros, who is now based in New Delhi.

The Society first implemented a watershed project where locals dug trenches and ponds, gabions (wire fabric containers), vegetative bundhs, loose boulder check dams and julkunds (low-cost rainwater harvesting structures on hilltops).

Villagers benefitted from the construction of embankments that stopped soil erosion and allowed water to percolate into the soil, increasing groundwater levels.

Society member Pratibha Naik said, “The watershed project started in March 2008, and the solar home lighting project started in November 2010, and both initially failed to entice any demand from most villagers. Coming up with the money was also seen as a burden. Later when they saw how the few families were benefiting the demand was so huge that villagers were kept on a waiting list. Such is the case with the biogas units as well.”

Velip summed up the feeling, “It would be nice to see our three villages work as a model for the rest of the state to follow, so that all can benefit the way we are.”

Source/Reference: Times of India, “Villagers hope project is model for state to follow

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